Danny Jobirra, Wooddale Church, Eden Prairie, MN (Recorded by Warren Coe April 28/29, 2012)
Editor’s Note: Danny has an amazing story of faith, persecution and God’s Grace.
I grew up in a Christian home, like many of you did, but not in Minnesota. I was raised by my parents with my younger sister in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Great difficulty struck our country in 1983 when the communists took control of our country, and it had a major effect on our family.
Churches were closed, Christianity was declared illegal and in 1984 my father was arrested and sent to prison for his faith. We were allowed to visit him during the six months he was in prison, but I had a very hard time, as an 8 year old boy, understanding why this was happening.
A Dad’s Perspective on Suffering for Jesus
I will never forget my dad’s perspective, though. I clearly remember the advice my dad would give me when we visited him in prison. He would say, “Son…what has happened to me is nothing when you compare it to the price that Jesus Christ paid for us on the cross! Yes, you are my son and I am your dad, but we have one common Dad who is going to take care of you and provide for all of your needs. Please Son, trust in the Lord and fix your eyes on the cross. I have nothing to give you as an inheritance except the Truth about Jesus Christ, the source of everything.”
These were my father’s words to me for several months. After six months, my father was released from prison and was able to live with us again, even though the persecution continued in other ways.
After my Dad got out of prison he explained to me why he had to go to prison. He had been asked to deny Jesus in public by the communist leader of the country. Though my father was beaten and tortured because of his faith he was able to kneel down and pray with tears for those who did this to him. But I hesitated to proclaim my faith in Jesus because I did not want to face beatings and prison myself.
I was not ready to receive Jesus’ love and forgiveness into my life until the 9th grade. A few years later the communist leadership was overthrown and churches were re-opened.
God had protected us in many ways, and we were grateful!
A Journey to Kenya
After completing high school I began working with an organization called Food for the Hungry. I had no money for college but a man I met told me about Daystar University in Kenya and said he would sponsor me. I arrived in Nairobi, Kenya and my luggage was lost. However, that same day I met the young lady who would one day become my wife.
Raya was from Odessa, Ukraine, where she had been raised in an orphanage. I studied at Daystar until a crisis occurred. The man who had promised to sponsor me at school never completed the paperwork and suddenly I was told I had to pay. I had very little money and could not continue. However, after much prayer and fasting I became aware of an opportunity to live and work in South Africa. Raya and I were married in 2004 and then moved to Johannesburg where we lived for seven years. Our two sons were born during this time, and while at times it was difficult for us both to be so far from our home countries, God was faithful.
Now in America
Then, in late 2010, everything changed. We heard about a lottery where people could submit their names for the possibility of winning the chance to move to America. We fasted and prayed about this idea and decided that it was not just a good idea, it also seemed to be a God idea.
We submitted our names and, against the overwhelming odds, our names were drawn. We could not believe it. We sold everything we had, made many arrangements and moved to Minnesota in December, 2010. I joined Wooddale Church’s custodial staff last year and am grateful for how God has provided.
As a young boy of 8, listening to my father talk about how God gave his Son for us and how he will provide for our every need, I had no idea the journey God would take me on.
God has sown his light in my life through so many dark nights and he has put his songs of praise in my heart each day. I am now not ashamed to talk about the gospel anywhere I go and I am thankful for Jesus’ unconditional love.